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Cases of scarlet fever double in England

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There have been more than 6000 cases of scarlet fever since September 2017

Cases of scarlet fever have doubled in England since mid-September compared to the same period last year, a report by Public Health England (PHE) has found.

The latest Health Protection Report revealed that 6225 cases of scarlet fever had been reported since 10 September 2017, compared to 3764 cases in the 2016/2017 season. There were a further 719 cases reported for the most recent week (22 to 28 January 2018).

‘It’s not uncommon to see a rise in cases of scarlet fever at this time of year,’ said Nick Phin, Deputy Director at Public Health England.

The total number of cases are currently higher than those reported at this point in the last four seasons. No definitive reason for the spike in scarlet fever has been reported, although PHE has suggested that improved awareness and reporting could have contributed to the significant rise.

‘Whilst there has been a notable increase in scarlet fever cases when compared to last season, greater awareness and improved reporting practices may have contributed to this increase,’ added Dr Phin.

Symptoms of scarlet fever include a sore throat, headache and fever with a characteristic fine, pinkish or red rash with a ‘sandpapery’ feel. It is recommended that antibiotics are used as early as possible, and

patients should be advised to stay at home for at least 24 hours.

PHE has also urged practice nurses and other healthcare providers to report any cases of scarlet fever to local health protection teams.

‘It is very contagious disease and much more common in children under 10 than teenagers or adults, but it can be treated quickly and effectively with a full course of antibiotics,’ said Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, Chair of the Royal College of GPs.

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